Neosho, Mo., FFA member captures state forage production awards
NEOSHO, MO. – Jacob Morgan considers himself a “typical farm kid.”
Ever since he was a boy, Jacob said he has helped out on the family’s 200-acre farm, doing whatever needed to be done.
As he got older, his chores included more work in the hayfields and helping with his family’s custom haying business.
“We bought hay for several years, but my grandpa (Jimmy Morgan) got into baling and custom haying,” Jacob said. “When I was about 12, I started raking for him. I finally graduated up to baling. Grandpa taught me a lot.”
In addition to harvesting, Jacob monitors soil fertility and determines when foragers are ready for harvest.
“I know when something isn’t ready to be cut or when a field needs to be fertilized,” Jacob said, adding that the easiest way to tell if soils require nutrients is to look at the overall production. If a field is not producing adequate forages, then it’s time to look at overall fertility. “We do some custom jobs where the owners don’t fertilize or lime, and you can tell the difference. We will have leased hay ground just down the road, and they produce more than double those fields.”
Jacob said between the family’s farm and their custom operation, he harvested in excess of 500 acres of forages.
“It’s mostly hay for our cows,” Jacob, the son of Danetta and Chris Morgan, explained, adding that they may sell surplus hay. “I don’t know how many bales I did, but I did a lot of hay.”
At the 2022 Missouri FFA State Convention in Columbia, Mo., Jacob’s time on the tractor and in the fields paid off when he was presented with the 2022 Missouri Forage Production Entrepreneurship and Placement Combined Proficiency Award.
He said he knew he had a strong application but did not think he would win the state award.
“We were up on stage, and really I couldn’t hear what they were saying,” Jacob recalled of the April event. “I looked up at the big screen, and the camera was on me. I thought, ‘Oh shoot!’ Then I got my plaque. I knew I had a decent application, but that was my first year competing at state; I didn’t know what to expect. My advisors (Kelin Kruse, Jennifer Thogmartin and John Littlefield) helped me through it, but I wasn’t sure what they would look for. It was exciting too.”
“The neat thing to see with Jacob is the growth he showed with his SAE project. What just started as raking hay grew over the years to mowing and baling,” Jacob’s advisor Kelin Kruise said. “And then taking on more management in making decisions, like when to bale hay and what fields could use fertilizer, etc. I was also glad to see him recognized as a winner because this is something he has decided to continue after high school.”
Jacob also credits his time in ag classes at Neosho High School and his participation in FFA for him to learn additional skills.
“I mostly took ag mechanic classes,” he said. “I learned how to weld and do some fab stuff. My dad and grandpa wouldn’t have gone as far as my advisors.”
Unfortunately, Jacob was not selected as a finalist for the national competition, but it has not diminished his spirit for the organization.
“You can’t just sit around and let the world go by you,” he said.
While not a part of his SAE, the Morgan family also operates a commercial Angus cow/calf operation.
“Between feeding and working them, I’m involved in all of it,” Jacob said of the cattle operation.
Jacob said college is not for him, and he has opted to focus on the family’s farming operation at Morgan Farms, and their excavating business.
“My dad and grandpa started the business and I’ve been working with them,” he said. “This last summer, we were hot and heavy with the hay, but when it slows down, you still have to have something to do. We have a backhoe, track loader, dump truck and things like that. We can do just about anything, like putting in a septic system or digging a pond. I want to add more custom hay customers and maybe gather more acreage here at the farm and expand the cattle operation a little.”
Continuing his family’s farming tradition, Jacob said, was the right move for him, and he encouraged other young people to consider production agriculture because there will always be a demand for agriculture.
“I like riding a tractor all day,” he said. “I get to kind of be my own boss. I like being on the farm and doing the work. I put up a lot of hay, but cows eat a lot of hay, and a lot of people eat cows; it all kinds of goes together.”